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LAPD says unarmed man shot by officer had approached them aggressively with hands hidden

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LOS ANGELES — An unarmed man who was shot and critically wounded by Los Angeles police had approached officers aggressively and pointed at them with his hands clasped underneath a gray cloth, police said Monday.

The two uniformed officers were driving in stop-and-go traffic at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when they saw a man on the sidewalk walk toward them in an aggressive manner, said Cmdr. Andrew Smith. The man, identified by police as Walter DeLeon, pointed at them with his hands clasped together and wrapped in a gray cloth. The officers left their patrol car and ordered him to drop a gun they believe he had.

One of the officers shot DeLeon, 48, when he didn't comply, police said.

DeLeon was in critical condition at a hospital.

His son, William DeLeon, told the Los Angeles Times that his father regularly walks with a rag because he sweats a lot. He said he was shocked when he learned police shot his father.

"I didn't understand why, because I know my dad wouldn't do anything to provoke it," he told the Times.

He said he and his family were at his father's bedside most of Monday and that he hadn't yet awoken.

Witnesses of the shooting have come forward, but the police car wasn't equipped with a dashcam and the officers weren't wearing body cameras, Smith said.

Preliminary information indicated that Walter DeLeon might have said something to officers to attract their attention, but Smith said it was too early in the investigation to know for sure.

The officers involved are on paid leave pending an investigation, which is standard operating procedure.

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